Every year on May 25, geeks gather to celebrate their geekiness. And by gather, I mean sit at our computers and have intense Internet forum discussions about the relative merits of Captains Kirk vs. Picard.
I kid, of course. While the term “geek” has been used derisively, geek culture is now utterly mainstream. I’d even wager that you – yes, you! – are a geek.
When you walk into the public library where I live, you are confronted with a sign that holds a simple question: What do you geek? It’s an unusual use of the term, and an unusual question in general. And a weird place for it to appear. Geeks are into Doctor Who, Dungeons and Dragons and comic books, right?
Maybe. But that’s an incredibly limited definition of the term geek. The defining characteristic of a geek is enthusiasm. Unashamed, confident enthusiasm. Or, as John Hodgman would say, geeks are people who “like what they like” without any reference to what is cool or hip. And, despite what some territorial geeks want you to believe, there are no rules.
Seriously. Talk to someone geeky about the thing they geek. It doesn’t matter what it is. The excitement will be palpable. (If you don’t get enthusiasm, you may have discovered a hipster.)
There is a classic geek culture to be sure, as well as a geek aesthetic. You know it when you see it. The video game t-shirt. The chunky glasses. The Chuck Taylors. But again, this is too limiting. A geek is not defined by fashion choices. (You may not guess by my frilly skirts that I keep an Incredible Hulk action figure on my desk.) You just need to answer two questions:
1. Do you love something, completely unironically?
2. Do you want to spread it to the world so everyone can love it with you?
If you answered yes to both of those questions, congratulations! You’re a geek!
This brings me back to the question posed by my local library: What do you geek? The topic of your fanaticism doesn’t matter. You can geek Battlestar Galactica, or you can geek for The Bachelor. You can geek Jack Kirby, or you can geek Ernest Hemingway. You can geek physics, or you can geek fashion. Or you can geek all of the above and then some. It doesn’t matter.
Of course, geek is an identity. If it’s not an identity you care to adopt, I wouldn’t want to force it on you. But try not to let the haters scare you off. If you want to take up that mantle, it’s yours to carry. Love what you love and don’t let anyone make you feel like your passions are less worthwhile than any others. Forget those people. They aren’t worth your time.
This Saturday, I encourage you to wear your geek loud and proud. Life is too short to only indulge your inner geek in private.
What do you geek? Leave your response in the comments.
Image credit: Flickr